Scottish cycling, we have a problem. Just one calendar month to go, and we have just 20 entries for this year’s David Bell Memorial. The 48th edition of a Scottish Classic. Am I really going to be the organiser that has to end another historic race?
Last year Scotland lost the Tour Doonhame. We’ve already lost Glasgow-Dunoon and countless other classics. We saw the Drummond Trophy have to run as a TLI recently. I scratch my head trying to understand what is happening? Why, when we are constantly told cycling is on the increase, am I sitting fretting about what to tell the many fantastic sponsors we have about our queen event?
I’ve some suspicions, but nothing concrete.
- Timing: Usually we host the race in June. But selfishly, due to the arrival of my baby boy this spring I requested to run the event in August. Perhaps the holiday season is affecting entries? Or perhaps all the racers who wanted to pedal hard in February are now suffering racing fatigue? No point guessing.
- Course: With four ascents of the Byne this is not an easy course. True. However, only three years ago the race was sent around the Nic and Tairlaw twice. We have been conscious of trying to reduce the steep climbs in favour of a testing circuit where strong riders can keep up with climbers, meanwhile taking the race to a town and community. The Davie Bell has always been a hard classic and it is hard to make apologies for that, or to find flat roads in our area!
- Reputation: Last year we ran as a National A event, the year before over gravel roads. As a National A event Scottish riders got a chance to race with bigger teams including Rapha, and it also secured 184 licence points for the 9 Scottish riders in the top 20. No apologies. The gravel roads of 2011 generated a lot of good debate pre-race, but interestingly for all those who decided not to enter, it was the first over-subscribed edition of the race in the last 20 years!
We have secured fantastic backing for the race from South Ayrshire Council, the South Carrick Community, local businesses including the Savoy Park Hotel, DigitalMyWay and Wm Grants & Sons. We’ve worked with Police Scotland to ensure police presence on the route. More than 80 volunteers will work on this event over the weekend. We’re going ahead with our closed-road youth races around Victory Park, and our 200km and 100km audaxes. But without entries, there will be no David Bell Memorial. That will be a great personal disappointment for me, but also I believe for Scottish racing cycling.
Entries are scheduled to close on the 4th August. If you hold an Elite, 1st, 2nd or 3rd Cat Licence you can enter now by going here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/84280/The-Ayrshire-Alps-Classic—48th-David-Bell-Memorial